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Fool on the Hill Paperback – 8 Dec 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (8 Dec. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135353
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
On a windless summer day in an uncertain year, more than a century after the founding of Cornell, a man who told lies for a living climbed to the top of The Hill to fly a kite. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
The basic premise of this book is the good, old-fashioned tale of Good against Evil. The back drop of the world of academia,which some say is already removed from reality, gived Matt Ruff free range to follow the tangents in his head. The result is a novel of mystic qualities that you loose yourself in. If you like escapism, and dogs, this is the book for you. And, Mr Ruff, when are you going to write another one?....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Not Pepys on 26 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh, how I loved this book. I bought it because of Bad Monkeys which is similar in the sense that it's rip-roaringly fast and has dizzying plot twists (as well as being by the same author of course). But Fool On The Hill is a full-on fairy tale: knights,evil sorcerors, dogs looking for heaven and hell, Lord Of The Rings references, the muse Calliope and a huge battle against a dragon to save his one true love. But don't let that put you off or believe it's namby-pamby in any way - it's robust, funny and utterly spell-binding. Right, I'm off to buy more of Matt Ruff's books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 110 reviews
45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
A wild ride of fun and fantasy! 23 Dec. 1999
By Karen Bierman Hirsh - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wrote a review of this book last year and I just re-read it again and wanted to remind people how fabulous this book is.
I discovered this book just after it was published and just before I got into Cornell and I have read it at least ten times since (I am just four years out of good 'ole Cornell). It it one of my favorite books as it combines true life in Ithaca with a world that you always hoped existed somewhere. It has something for everyone - as it combines several full lentgh stories, which could easily be read independently of one another, into an exciting and fun adventure. The Fool On The Hill was Ruff's senior thesis (if I am to believe a professor of his that supposedly helped get it published) - I felt that his book was so fabulous I went out and signed up for a course with his mentor.
If you buy this book, I guarantee that you will loan it out and have to re-purchase it as I know that I have gone through about 7 or 8 copies already. This book will touch the child in all of you.
The book focuses on S.T. George, a writer who finds his muse and loses her, a group of bohemian college students with some magic up their sleeves and a cat and dog on a journey to find "heaven" and rid the animal world of castes (pure-breds vs. mutts) and you kind kind-of get the idea behind Fool.... but it is really SO much more.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone that likes to daydream!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Wild Fairy Tale Ride 12 Mar. 2002
By Elizabeth Bronzino - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fool on the Hill is one of the most inventive novels I've read in ages, and I very much enjoyed the comedic aspect of it. I think I actually laughed out loud once or twice. (High praise from me indeed. I haven't said that about any novel since Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore.)
I was afraid that Matt Ruff wasn't going to land his plane (err, kite) very well at the end because of the incredibly wild ride that we'd been on so far, but even there he pleasantly surprised me.
I highly recommend this book. Good characters, good scenery, inventive story (from sprites to evil ice birds to groups of animals having philosophical discussions to true love) -- all with a well-paced writing style and light-hearted sense of humor.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
my favorite fiction novel of all time! 26 Dec. 2002
By Christine P - Published on
Format: Paperback
I saw this novel on the store shelf and bought it on a whim, not having any idea at all to what genre it is or what the story was all about. Needless to say, I've fallen in love with this book and haven't been able to put it down until I finished reading the last pages. Matt Ruff's story is a marvelous blend of fantasy centered in the Cornell University campus and the real town of Ithaca. At first, I was reluctant to read about so many different main characters all in one novel, but Ruff's narrative brilliantly intertwined the individual character plots so seamlessly that it all came out into a neat framework in the end.
He writes about a writer (S.T. George)who is hapless in love, an ethereal muse who happens to be the most beautiful woman on earth, a normal girl and her normal boyfriend, some truly unique Bohemians in Risley, and a dog who searches for heaven. Oh, and add to that some sprites who watch over humans while they are blissfully unaware of this fantasy existence. By looking at this assorted list of characters, one might think that a confusion of names and plots would result from all this. But, Matt Ruff's narrative is clear, fascinating, and well-organized enough to overcome that.
His writing is full of humor. It's sorta like "Animal House" meets Tolkien. The college spirit is definitely there. I am also currently attending Cornell U., so his book brings back fond memories of the place. So perhaps in this sense, one would get more enjoyment from reading this book if he was familiar with Cornell. But regardless of the book's association with Cornell University, the story itself is so hilarious and interesting, that there probably should not be any huge problem of this happening. His story is filled with romance, action, horror, and would dare you to drop the book and take a break - even for one minute! It is that absorbing. This book has become a favorite of mine, and I recommend everyone- Cornellian and non-Cornellian alike- to read it. It is truly an enjoyable read!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
For the Dreamer in All of Us 7 Jun. 2000
By Jeffrey Anbinder - Published on
Format: Paperback
This wonderful fantasy novel is set at Cornell, and surely every Cornell student and alum should own a copy. But it's not just for Cornellians.

"Fool on the Hill" is for everybody who's ever fallen in love and everybody who thinks they never will. It's for everybody who pretended in their childhood to fight and vanquish evil. And it's for all of us who've ever sat quietly and tried, out of the corners of our eyes, to spot the magical beings we just knew were lurking around the bend.

Make no mistake, this is not harmless fantasy. Ruff pulls no punches, and characters you care about will get hurt, and even die. But the wonderful way in which Ruff interweaves several different threads, and the irreverence he has for literary conventions, are irresistible.

I must admit I have never understood why this book isn't far more popular, and I hope that people reading this review who've never read Ruff's work will take a risk and order a copy. And if you have a friend at Cornell, send them one, too; they'll love you for it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Two words: sheer brilliance. 16 May 2000
By William E. Hunter - Published on
Format: Paperback
A truly wonderous book. I don't mean to overstate the case, but this is the kind of original work that comes around once in a lifetime.
This is the beauty of After I wrote reviews of Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash" and "The Diamond Age", someone dropped me a line and recommended Ruff's second novel, "Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy". From there, it was on to Fool, and one of the most sublime reads I've ever had. Best described as a magical mixture of Cornell University life, little invisible sprites and the interior dialog of Cats and Dogs, this is a tighter, more effortless novel than Sewer. Despite the time shifting, incongruous characters and slides into Tolkeinesque fantasy, the book flows seamlessly to its conclusion and sweeps us poor unsuspecting readers along with it.
It's not often that a novel can toy with so many genres and writing styles and still produce a coherent, fully realized story. "Fool on the Hill" goes one's an unmitigated classic.
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